The National Computer Board's efforts in the Manufacturing and Distribution Cluster are focused on upgrading the internal capabilities of companies in this sector, enabling enterprise integration, manpower upgrading and ...

Singapore, 2 December 1996 | For Immediate Release

The National Computer Board's efforts in the Manufacturing and Distribution Cluster are focused on upgrading the internal capabilities of companies in this sector, enabling enterprise integration, manpower upgrading and reskilling, and creating new ways to do business.

Upgrading Internal Capabilities

Several initiatives have been introduced to help manufacturing companies move from the current paper-intensive design environment to an automated and integrated mode of operation:

a) Quickmould

Quickmould is a set of 3D functional software design tools that will help a mould designer shorten the design time required for a plastic injection mould. Currently, a manufacturer takes from six to eight weeks to design and manufacturer a mould. With Quickmould, the process can be reduced by two to three weeks. The project, costing $1.7 million, is a joint effort among Gintic, NTU's School of Mechanical & Production Engineering and the NCB. Spreading over three phases, the project will take 18 months to be developed and tested. Phase 1 of the software is expected to be launched in February 1997. The software is expected to benefit 120 local mould making companies.

b) Product Data Exchange Service (PDEX)

A collaborative effort between Gintic and the NCB, PDEX will help MNCs and local SMEs exchange 3D product data promptly and accurately over multiple 3D CAD/CAM systems. A utility software to convert CAD files from one format to another format using STEP and IGES standards will be developed to enable this service. This will reduce the current practice among SMEs to install several different software systems to support different customers. The plan is to evolve PDEX into a full commercial operation in three years time, so that it can be sustained and upgraded further to meet the future needs of industry. This project will cost approximately $2.4 million to set up and is expected to be ready towards the end of 1999. About 70 SMEs and 20 MNCs are expected to use this service.

c) Internet-Based Parts Design Library

This project aims to develop an Internet-based parts design library for the tool, die and mould industry. The database will consolidate various product or component ( including design drawings and specifications) and procurement information into one source. Currently, such information reside in diverse sources such as proprietary databases, printed catalogues, CD-ROMS, CAD libraries, etc. With the Parts Design Library, users can acquire such information from one source. The plan is to eventually enable users to place orders through the network and be informed of the status of orders. The Parts Design Library project was launched in November 1996 and will take 18 months to develop and test. Some 120 mould manufacturers are expected to use the library.

Enabling Enterprise Integration

PRISMSplus, a total skills management system for the Process Industry, has been introduced to help contractor's in the process industry manage manpower resources. Through PRISMSplus, users can retrieve up-to-date on-line information on skilled workers, from welders to scaffolders and pipe fitters. This will enable easy monitoring of workers' records, job performance and their location /worksite. PRISMSplus will also be linked to the relevant government agencies to eliminate the need to submit different forms to diferent agencies. Some 4,000 to 5,000 craftsmen and contractors will be trained, certified and monitored in PRISMSplus over the next three to four years. Contractors in the process industry will be able to save more than $2 million a year with the full PRISMSplus infrastructure in place. Through the PRISMSplus project, the NCB and EDB are working towards establishing an industry-wide skill management infrastructure in Singapore.

The NCB has also aggressively promoted the adoption of Electronic Data Interchange for Manufacturing (EDIMAN) standards to the manufacturing industry. To date, about 24 (buyer) companies have either implemented EDIMAN or are in the midst of implementing EDIMAN with their suppliers. More than 240 suppliers are already using EDIMAN to trade. With EDIMAN standards, suppliers can transact with multiple buyers withour having to implement proprietary procurement systems for different buyers. A Chemical EDIMAN has also been launched for the petrochemical sector in July. Petrochemical companies like Shell, Esso, BP, SRC, etc. will be adopting EDIMAN for their procurement functions in the near future.

Manpower Upgrading and Reskilling

The National Computer Board, Temasek Polytechnic and Autodesk Asia set up the Mechatronics Design Centre to train workers to move from 2D drafting to 3D design and integrated CAD/CAM. The MDC will also showcase and propagate best practices in design for manufacturing in Singapore. Over the next three years, the MDC plans to train over 2,500 Singapore manufacturing workers. Since the opening of the Center in September 1996, about 70 students from NTUC Skill Development Section has been trained.

Creating New Ways of Doing Business

Singapore Connect, a joint effort between the NCB and the Productivity and Standards Board, provides a one-stop information service for SMEs. The website, which hosts a comprehensive business directory, will help SMEs look for partners, both local and overseas. A bulletin board is also available to facilitate the buying and selling of services and products. Singapore Press Holdings will develop and expand Singapore Connect to facilitate new business collaboration and networking.

Looking Ahead

The NCB is supporting an initiative in the coming year is to offer EDI over the Internet. This initiative will allow users who do not currently find it cost effective to subscribe to a VAN (value added network) to still benefit from EDI by riding on the Internet platform. Today, many big buyers are already using EDI to trade. However, smaller suppliers are not using EDI because it is not cost effective for them. With the EDI over the Internet initiative, buyers can send their transactions to a VAN which then translates and send the messages to their supplier via the Internet. Suppliers can then retrieve their orders from the system using an Internet browser withour investing in an EDI translator.